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Ecstasy (MDMA) Effects

MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), sometimes called Ecstasy or Molly, is a man-made substance with stimulant and hallucinogenic properties.2 It is commonly used at parties and clubs for its energizing, empathic and euphoric ecstasy effects.1, 2

Pure MDMA tends to be sold as a crystalline powder that users swallow or snort. Pressed pills with MDMA in them are known as Ecstasy, and often these pills contain additives such as caffeine, amphetamines, ketamine, cocaine or synthetic cathinones (bath salts) to supplement or enhance the effects.1, 2

However, the pleasurable effects can come with a series of unpleasant or potentially dangerous health effects that may leave a lasting impact on people who use ecstasy.

What Happens When You Take Ecstasy?

Many people take MDMA or ecstasy because it produces various energizing effects, which can include an increase in feelings of closeness, enhanced sexuality, alertness and distortion of time and perception.1 Many of the effects and risks are similar to those of stimulants like cocaine.1

Ecstasy and MDMA stimulate the central nervous system, resulting in increased levels of the brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.1,2 These chemicals are related to mood, energy levels, heart rate, blood pressure and sexual arousal.1

How Long Do Effects Last?

MDMA and ecstasy exert their effects within 30 to 45 minutes of ingestion and, depending on the purity of the drug, may last 4 to 6 hours.1 The effects that a person may experience can vary depending on:2

  • Tolerance, or taking more ecstasy to achieve the same effects.3
  • Metabolism.
  • Amount taken.
  • Additives or adulterant substances.
  • Use with other substances like alcohol or marijuana.

Short-term Effects of Ecstasy

Short-term effects of ecstasy may feel pleasurable but may also be uncomfortable. Short-term effects can include:1, 2, 4

  • Enhanced sensory perception.
  • Elevated mood.
  • Reduced inhibitions.
  • Heightened empathy toward others.
  • Increased energy.
  • Distortions in time.
  • Increased sex drive.
  • Increased body temperature.
  • Tremors.
  • Muscle tension and/or cramps.
  • Chills.
  • Sweating.
  • Nausea.
  • Blurred vision.

Long-term Effects of Ecstasy

Long-term effects of ecstasy can affect brain functioning and include:1, 4

  • Confusion.
  • Depression.
  • Issues with sleep.
  • Memory and attention problems.
  • Anxiety.
  • Impulsiveness.
  • Decreased sex drive.

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Health Effects of Ecstasy

The effects of ecstasy or MDMA use can include increased blood pressure and heart rate, which can be very dangerous for people with heart and blood vessel problems.2 A drastic increase in body temperature is associated with MDMA use and can potentially lead to liver, kidney or heart failure or even death.2

MDMA or ecstasy use can have unpredictable effects on a person if they do not know what substances the MDMA is mixed with.2, 4 People who intentionally use other substances with MDMA or ecstasy may experience other potentially dangerous effects, possibly even more dangerous than MDMA alone.6

MDMA’s dangerous and life-threatening effects can include:1, 2, 5

  • Extremely high body temperature (hyperpyrexia/hyperthermia).
  • Liver failure.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Cardiovascular failure.
  • Muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis).
  • Brain swelling (cerebral edema).
  • Intense thirst and overconsumption of water (hyperdipsia).
  • Abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Seizures.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Sudden death.

Effects of Ecstasy Overdose

Taking multiple doses or high doses of ecstasy in a short time period can cause unpleasant effects or even an ecstasy overdose.1, 2 People can experience a sudden spike in body temperature known as hyperthermia, which can lead to liver, kidney or cardiovascular failure.1 In some cases, people can even die from an overdose of ecstasy.1

When a person takes MDMA or ecstasy, it can interfere with its own breakdown within the body, which may lead to potentially dangerous levels of MDMA in the bloodstream.1

Withdrawal Symptoms of Ecstasy

There is no conclusive evidence to claim that ecstasy or MDMA is addictive.4 However, people may exhibit withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop or reduce their use of ecstasy. These symptoms may include:4

  • Fatigue.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Depression.
  • Challenges with concentration.

Ecstasy Rehab Centers Near Me

If you are concerned that you or a loved one is struggling with ecstasy or other drug misuse, American Addiction Centers (AAC) is here to help. Our caring admissions team is available 24/7 to take your call, help you find treatment for drug or alcohol misuse and learn about payment options, including using insurance to pay for treatment. Contact us for free at . Our nationwide network of facilities includes inpatient and outpatient programs to meet your needs and help you get on the road to recovery. Check your insurance benefits now to determine whether your insurance provider will cover rehabilitation.

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